Jax Miller scores twice, Avonworth pulls away from New Brighton late

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Friday, November 8, 2019 | 11:03 PM


Avonworth turned to its workhorse running back, Jax Miller, to try to advance in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. Miller delivered, rushing for 216 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries as the Antelopes defeated New Brighton, 38-13, on Friday night.

Avonworth scored 24 points in the fourth quarter to pull away from New Brighton in the quarterfinal.

“New Brighton’s plan was to stop Jax, and they did it very well at times,” Avonworth coach Duke Johncour said. “If you just keep feeding your horse, he’s gonna take you to good places. He’s a special player.”

No. 2 Avonworth scored its first two touchdowns in the first quarter to take a 14-0 lead.

The Antelopes (12-0, 6-0) capped their game-opening drive, which covered 69 yards in 10 plays, when Park Penrod threw to Theo Newhouse for a 23-yard touchdown. Miller scored his first touchdown on their next drive on a 54-yard run.

“I definitely feel great about where our team is at and the techniques we’re doing,” Miller said. “Our preparation for every team has been spot on, and our play-calling and execution has been great.”

Then the play on the field turned sloppy.

No. 10 New Brighton failed to score twice in the red zone in the first half and turned the ball over on downs each time, once with less than a minute to go in the second quarter.

“Our defense played extremely well, and for them to get a stop at the goal line right before halftime is big,” Johncour said. “I’m very pleased with the defense.”

The Lions (8-4, 5-2) also dropped three passes in the first half, including one that likely would have gone for an 82-yard touchdown.

Avonworth wasn’t without its miscues.

The Antelopes turned over the ball on a muffed punt, failed to score in the second and third quarters on three drives into the Lions’ red zone and had a 20-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty.

“We had holding calls, and we had other penalties and just stalled our own drives,” Johncour said. “We have to make better plays in the red zone and not take those penalties because they put us behind the sticks.”

New Brighton cut Avonworth’s lead to 14-6 with 9 seconds left in the third quarter when Jackson Hall, who was 13 of 24 passing for 160 yards, found Nya Greene on a 7-yard touchdown play. Hall also scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Miller scored a second time on a 55-yard run, the first of Avonworth’s 24 points in the fourth quarter.

The Antelopes recovered their onside kick, and Tyler Bryan kicked a field goal for the Antelopes to go up 24-6. Penrod and Ian Syam also scored late with 34- and 19-yard runs, respectively.

Avonworth will play No. 14 Riverside in the semifinals.

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